Recorded in several spellings including Turner, Turnor, Thurner, Tourner and Tournor, this is one of the great British surnames. With over fifty entries in the Dictionary of National Biography, it perhaps surprisingly it has at least three possible origins. Firstly, it may be an occupational name for a maker of small objects of wood, metal, or bone by turning on a lather, deriving from the Anglo-Norman French word "torner". Secondly, it may be a nickname for a fast runner, from the Middle English elements "turnen" to turn, plus the fusing of "hare" a hare.Thirdly, it may be occupational for an official in charge of a tournament, deriving from the Old French word "tornei". The surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below), and early recordings include Ralph le Turner (1191 - 1192) in the Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire, and Bernard Turnehare in the Curia Regis Rolls of Staffordshire in 1224. Examples from the surviving church registers of the city of London include the marriage of John Turner to Amy German on April 19th 1553, at St. Leonard's Eastcheap, and the christening of Thomasyn Turnor, the daughter of Thomas Turnor, at the church of St Mary Aldermary, in the city of London, on November 16th 1599. John Turner, with his two sons, was one of the passengers on the "Mayflower", the ship in which the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth to Massachusetts in 1620. The most famous bearer of the name was probably J. M. W. Turner (1775 - 1851), the English landscape painter and master of water colours. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Warner le Turnur, which was dated 1180, in the "Pipe Rolls of London", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189.
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